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March 11, 1999

Tim Henman


MIKI SINGH: Tim is through to the quarterfinals. He'll face the winner of Woodruff and Mantilla.

Q. Curious match, though, wasn't it?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it was. It had lots of sort of different stages. My approach to it was in the last two matches we've played, I've almost been flat, and I haven't really got stuck into those matches. I was just really determined, win or lose, that I was going to go out there, and I was going to fight; I was going to get fired up for it. That was the case from the word "go." I felt like the first game I made my intentions felt. Even losing my serve in the next game, I just felt I was ready to compete hard. I thought I played really well. I thought I returned his serve probably the best I've returned it. It could have been a bit more straightforward. If I would have got the breakpoint at 1-All in the second set, we had quite a good point. But to give him credit, you know, he really -- I think he went up a gear, he was much more aggressive, started attacking my second serve and dominated the second set, you know. The early parts of the third, I think the momentum was with him. I just had to stick in as much as I could.

Q. When you lost your serve in the second set, he did suddenly start attacking every ball. Did it catch you a little off guard perhaps?

TIM HENMAN: Well, I mean it was definitely a change, wasn't it? That hadn't happened. I had to be aware of that. I think, if anything, my serving, it was a combination of the two: he starts playing better, my serving perhaps wasn't as consistent as it had been. Yeah, he played the second set much, much better. Early on in the third, that's when you've got to dig your heels in a bit. That's exactly what I did, so I was really pleased to stick in there, hold onto my own serve. Then when I got some chances at 3-All, I thought I played probably the best return game at such an important stage.

Q. Returned well today?

TIM HENMAN: Yes, that's what I said. I said it's probably the best I returned his serve. He's always going to hit aces, there's going to be times when you don't make him play. But I think I really did get a lot of balls back today, and some good returns in there as well.

Q. Was the wind a bothersome factor for you?

TIM HENMAN: Definitely. I think also, as well, it was kind of that stage at the beginning of the second set when the wind really picked up. I felt like I'd been playing some pretty good quality tennis. But, obviously, when the wind starts blowing, it's harder to do that. Greg got the right tactic, to get into the net. It's much easier at the net than on the baseline.

Q. Key backhand of his on that breakpoint, immediately before you broke him.

TIM HENMAN: Yes. I had it covered (laughter). I think it was about --.

Q. You didn't kiss the net.

TIM HENMAN: No, I didn't. But that's the way it goes sometimes. A couple of overrules on breakpoint in his favor early on. I think probably correct ones, but sometimes they go in your favor, sometimes they don't. Those didn't. It's fair to say that that net cord went in my favor.

Q. Talk about the last game, the game you closed out the match with. You got yourself in a bit of a hole.

TIM HENMAN: Sure. I think the first point was important. As I just said, in the wind, you can take nothing for granted. I got my first serve percentage up towards the end of the third set. I made a first serve and I had a relatively easy backhand volley, one that I shouldn't miss. It holds up in the wind, you miss it in the tape. He played a couple of really good points, and all of a sudden I'm Love-40. I said to myself, "This game isn't over yet, I can take it one point at a time." I fought hard and fought my way out of that.

Q. The draw seems to have opened up rather invitingly.

TIM HENMAN: The guy that beat Pete is obviously playing pretty well. Anytime you beat Sampras on any surface, you're going to be confident.

Q. Pete played rather badly last night.

TIM HENMAN: I think you've got to give Mantilla a little bit of credit, as well. He obviously had his game plan. The tennis I watched, Pete wasn't playing his best, but Mantilla was making life very difficult. Having said that, Woodruff is very eager at the moment. He's on the comeback trail, if you like, from injury. He's won one of these tournaments before. It's not going to be easy. I do feel confident after the wins I've had. Hopefully, I'm going to be difficult to beat.

Q. Speaking of Pete, he came here last night and said it was just rumors, he's not planning on playing the Davis Cup. Is that a disappointment for you that the Americans aren't coming with their best?

TIM HENMAN: One of those things there's so much talk about their team. My approach is just to worry about our team. I don't really want to get involved in what the Americans are up to. They've got so many choices, they've got lots of people that could play. I think the bottom line is that the team that does show up in Birmingham to play will be a good team.

Q. Do you see yourself as the favorites?

TIM HENMAN: I think so . I think with home advantage and the way Greg and I have been playing, indoors, I think we do go in as favorites. What does that mean at the end of the day?

Q. How significant of a win is this? I know it's an early round match, but --?

TIM HENMAN: I mean, when you approach a match like this playing Greg, you say, "Just same as any other old match." It's not. There's always going to be that little bit extra on it. He won on the last two occasions; I won today. I'm very pleased. I'm pleased because I beat a good player. He's in the Top 10. Had to fight hard for it, so I'm satisfied. As I said, I feel confident, so I want to go further.

Q. Do you think that was evident in early games when both of you looked fairly sort of tense and possibly a wee bit nervous?

TIM HENMAN: I think there's always a little bit of tension. But, as I said, I thought early on I wanted to be very aggressive in my play and in my movement about the court, and my body language. I think that definitely paid off for me today.

End of FastScripts....

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